Many Rivers, One Ocean: An Initiative for Contemplative Study and Practice
Contemplative practices, with their intentions toward well-being, authentic relationships, and deep learning, are beneficial to a community. Therefore, a sense of responsibility exists for universities to explore avenues for developing a culture of contemplative inquiry. This article describes a process embarked upon by members of a large state university community in their intentional pursuit to develop a more pervasive contemplative community on campus. Several faculty and staff with well-established personal practices in mind-body exercise, meditation, and mindfulness were motivated, within their respective professional roles, to incorporate contemplative work in classrooms and programs. Such integration is increasingly common at universities of this size. But how does a university evolve from this isolated integration to a campus-wide collaborative culture of contemplative study and practice? This article offers a description of this process from the perspectives of the initiative’s originators, through interviews in which they share their vision, development, and planning of actionable goals. The critical functions of a formalized strategic planning process are presented as helpful in institutionalizing a campuswide initiative to promote contemplative practices. We offer the story of our journey, one path among many in facilitating the development of such an initiative, in the hope that it may be useful to others across higher education settings.
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